If you read the front inside flap of 2004’s “Star Palate: Celebrity Cookbook for a Cure,” you will discover that cookbook author, Tami Agassi, “was a 30-year-old breast cancer survivor when she dreamed up Star Palate as a way to promote awareness of breast and ovarian cancer and to raise funds to fight for a cure.” Teaming with renowned chef and gifted author Kathy Casey (owner of Kathy Casey Food Studios® - Liquid Kitchen®, as well as Dish D’Lish), Agassi’s idea took root and many celebrities embraced the initiative by submitting stories and recipes. I highlighted some of those celebrity-submitted recipes in this column several years ago, but not for “Classic Pot Roast with Caramelized Onion Gravy,” contributed by Robin Williams’ then personal chef, John Mathies, because Williams was “notorious for not knowing how to cook.” (Perhaps just like the hilariously indomitable, even sexy, kitchen klutz, Euphegenia Doubtfire, from the 1993 movie “Mrs. Doubtfire,” winner of an Oscar for Best Makeup and a Golden Globe award for Williams for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical.) Identified as being among Williams’ favorite dishes, the pot roast dish is sublime, as was Williams’ remarkable life, talent and body of work. It is very hard to accept Williams’ passing, and as we learn more about his private struggles, the depth of his generosity, despite those difficulties, is stunning. Williams’ was a life to celebrate. Celebrate it with a meal he loved, with those you love – and find a reason to smile.
Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at email@example.com.
Classic Pot Roast with Caramelized Onion Gravy
Recipe courtesy “Star Palate: Celebrity Cookbook for a Cure,” by Tami Agassi and Kathy Casey, published in 2004 by Documentary Media, www.documentarymedia.com, with permission of the Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research, www.marsharivkin.org. Proceeds from the sale of this book went equally to the Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer, in Seattle, and The Breast Cancer Research Foundation in New York, www.bcrfcure.org.
1 (5-pound) boneless chuck roast
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 onions, diced
½ cup red wine
½ cup beef broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 carrots, cut in large chunks
2 stalks celery, cut in large chunks
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons flour
¼ cup water
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Trim beef of excess fat; if necessary, cut into four even pieces to fit better in your cooking vessel. Season meat with salt and pepper.
Heat oil in a large, deep pan or Dutch oven over high heat until hot but not smoking. Brown meat well on all sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side, and remove to a plate when done.
Turn down heat to medium-high; add onions and sauté until well browned and caramelized, scraping up all the browned bits from the pan. Add wine, broth, tomato paste, garlic, vegetables and bay leaves. Return meat to the pan, and bring to a boil. Cover and place in preheated oven. Cook until meat is very tender, about 2 to 3 hours. Halfway through cooking, turn meat over so all surfaces spend time in the liquid. When done, remove from oven, discard bay leaves, and remove celery and carrot with a slotted spoon to a dish; reserve. Take meat from pot, and keep warm. Mix up the flour and water to make a smooth slurry. Whisking constantly, drizzle slurry into the sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer sauce 3 to 5 minutes to thicken and cook out flour taste. Adjust the seasoning. Serve pot roast sliced, with vegetables and gravy. Makes 8 servings.
Kitchen Ade note: I added more carrots to the pot and doubled the amount of liquid to 1 cup beef broth and 1 cup red wine. I also added an additional 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, making the total amount of tomato paste used to ¼ cup. I did not thicken the gravy with flour, as I found it to be thick enough with just the onions. I baked the pot roast for three hours and it was fork tender.